Whole Brain Workout

Gina Cancelliere, with additional reporting by Dana Bauer.
May 01, 2000

The CAUSE seminar allowed undergraduate Kristy Fruit to take her liberal arts education and "smash it together with the technical stuff," she says.

Fruit isn't your typical engineering student, and not just because she sports bright pink nail polish and a pixie-like hairstyle. She's studying philosophy and economics for her general arts and sciences degree while simultaneously learning physics, calculus, and geology for a degree in geo-environmental engineering. It will take her more than four years to graduate from Penn State with the coursework she's mapped out, but that doesn't bother Fruit. "I want to learn anything that will help me function in the real world," she says.

Fruit first heard of the CAUSE 2000 seminar from an engineering classmate. "It sounded cool," she says. Fruit knew this was an opportunity to "exercise both sides of my brain." The CAUSE experience couldn't have come at a better time in Fruit's educational career. Her draining schedule of 20-some-credit semesters was taking a toll. "I was getting really sick of school," she says.

CAUSE 2000 revitalized Fruit. Most college courses don't include field trips, especially a two-week cross-country excursion with professors and classmates. "Without the trip, I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it," Fruit admits. "I've been and seen more places than most people see in a lifetime," she adds excitedly. What impressed her most was the zest and passion of the scientists and engineers that she met during the CAUSE trip. Their enthusiasm for their professions inspired her to continue her educational quest. .

In Spring 2000, Fruit was accepted for a summer internship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, to work on a project implementing renewable sources of energy in developing countries. "I talked about CAUSE in my application," says Fruit. The CAUSE seminar, she adds, allowed her to bring an understanding of energy use to the table. "I've learned more and have gotten more direction from CAUSE than from any other class," she adds.

Fruit returned to Penn State in Fall 2000 to continue working on her two degrees and to take part in the second semester of CAUSE 2000. "Now I'm using some of what I learned at my internship in class," she says proudly.

Last Updated May 01, 2000